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Sunday, Aug. 4, 2002

Congresswoman meets A-bomb victims

Staff writers

HIROSHIMA -- The only member of the U.S. Congress to oppose the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan met survivors of the 1945 atomic bombing here on Saturday, three days ahead of the 57th anniversary of the attack.

Rep. Barbara Lee of California made a name for herself by voting against the Sept. 14 congressional resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to use military force in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

After laying flowers at the memorial monument at the Peace Memorial Park, Lee expressed her determination to pursue a nuclear-free world and nonviolent resolutions to world problems.

Referring to the Flame of Peace at the cenotaph here, which is to burn until nuclear weapons are eradicated from the world, Lee said "I hope one day in my life I can return here and see the flame extinguished."

She was welcomed by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, representatives of survivors of the atomic bomb and peace activists.

Akira Ishida, who was on a packed train when the bomb exploded, asked Lee over lunch to convey his hope to Bush that the most powerful leader in the world would visit Hiroshima to see what had happened to the city with his own eyes.

Lee was invited to Japan by a group of Diet members, university professors and members of nongovernmental organizations.

During a lecture Friday in Tokyo, the American lawmaker emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation in solving global problems and establishing global peace.

She said the resolution for the U.S. attack on Afghanistan was unlike past declarations of war or resolutions to use force. It granted very broad powers to the president, authorizing him to use force against unnamed persons, nations and groups within an infinite time frame, she said.

"I could not support such a broad grant of war-making authority to the president," she said. "Only Congress can declare war, based upon our constitution."

Although all appropriate steps must be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice and to prevent possible terrorist attacks, Lee said, the U.S. should not resort to military actions that involve the loss of more innocent lives.

"We must strengthen our antiterrorism defenses and expand our multilevel efforts to work with other nations to prevent future attacks, " she said, warning that the U.S. will be making a great mistake if it ignores its allies in a blind rush toward unilateralism.

In addition to terrorism, the representative from northern California said other global challenges -- such as HIV, global warming and the arms race -- must be solved through cooperation among countries.

Lee also criticized the unilateral stance of the U.S. on these issues and said Washington should rejoin efforts to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Lee was first elected to the House of Representatives from the Ninth District of California in 1998.

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The Japan Times

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